Frequently asked questions

As a trauma patient you may have a number of questions. We hope the information below is helpful. If you have additional questions, please contact Dr. Crichlow's office.

When can I drive?

For lower extremity injuries (pelvis and legs), you can drive once you can walk smoothly with a cane (with OUT a limp).  This varies by person and injury. For upper extremity injuries (arms and clavicle), this can vary but usually you may start driving by six weeks.

When can I bear weight?

This will be determined on a case by case basis as weight bearing depends on the injury. Fractures take, on average, about 12 weeks to heal. If your fracture requires you to be “non-weight bearing” you can count on being off that leg for 12 weeks (three months). Often times, as your bone begins to show signs of healing on x-rays, Dr Crichlow will allow you to start bearing partial weight on your injured extremity (arm/ leg).

When can I shower and bathe?

This will de determined on a case by case basis.  Soft tissue (skin, muscle, surgical and traumatic wounds) are very different in each patient. This can be affected by your age, other medical problems (diabetes, poor circulation, smoking, etc) or your initial injury.  

Generally, you will change your dressing one time daily.  Once your dressing remains clean (no drainage) for two days in a row you may leave your wound open to the air. Keep the wound clean and dry. Do NOT apply salve or ointments (triple antibiotic cream, Neosporin or other lotions or creams) to your wound. 

You may shower once your wound is clean and dry for 24 hours. 

You may not BATHE or SOAK in water (bath, pool, ocean, lake) until 7 days after your stitches or staples have been removed. This is usually two to three weeks after surgery. 

How do I change my dressing?

Every day you should remove your old dressing and inspect your wound. Apply a new, dry piece of gauze to cover your surgical wound and seal the gauze with tape. 

What to expect when taking pain medication?

Pain medication will be provided after surgery. You should NOT expect complete pain relief.  The goal is to control your pain to a manageable level (2-3 on a scale of 0-10).  You should follow the directions on the prescription carefully and do NOT exceed 8 tablets/day (24 hours) as this could be toxic to your liver. 

  • Do not take Tylenol in addition to prescription pain medication. Most prescribed pain medication contains Tylenol (Acetaminophen) and this could result in an overdose of Tylenol (Acetaminophen). 
  • Do not take NSAIDS until approved by Dr. Crichlow.  NSAIDS are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e. Advil, Aleve, Celebrex, Naproxen, Ibuprofen).  

If you anticipate needing a refill of your pain medication you should contact our office 72 hours in advance at 317.917.4384.  Refills need to be written on a script and will need to be picked up from our office.  We will not refill medications after hours, on weekends or on holidays.

When should I schedule a follow-up appointment?

Please call 317.917.4384 and speak with Dr. Crichlow’s Patient Service Coordinator (PSC) in order to schedule an appointment. Dr. Crichlow usually sees patients 14 to 21 days after surgery unless otherwise specified by your discharge orders. 

Can I smoke?

Do not smoke! Smoking, specifically nicotine, impedes bone and wound healing.  This can cause your fracture not to heal.  Smoking also increases your risk of infection. 

What should I eat to aid in my fracture healing?

We recommend a high protein diet that it also high in calcium. 

What do I need to know about taking pain medications? 

To avoid constipation we recommend that you drink more water, take an over-the-counter stool softeners (Dulcolax, Senokot, Colace) and eat a diet high in fiber.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

When you have been injured you tend to decrease your walking.  Your injury, in combination with medications and the trauma your extremity has endured, puts you at an increase rate of developing a deep vein thrombosis, also known as Venous Thrombotic Event.

More information 

When can I stop wearing my compression hose?

You should continue to wear your compression hose as long as you continue to have swelling.  These compression hose may be hand washed and re-used. These compression hose help to prevent DVT/VTE.  

When can I stop taking my Vitamin D supplements?

We asked you to continue taking your Calcium with Vitamin D supplements for three months after your injury.  This aids in bone health and healing.

When can I return to work?

It’s ideal to return back to your normal daily routine and job as soon as possible.  Often times, employers will modify work duties if requested.  If your job is a sit-down type of job (desk based with little walking or climbing) and you can elevate your foot at work you may return to work as soon as your are comfortable. 

  • If your job requires walking, standing or climbing then your return to work will depend upon your weight bearing status. 
  • If your job is labor intensive then you should expect to be off work for 4 to 6 months. 

We will work very hard to tailor your treatment plan to your specific goals (career, sports, recreational aspirations) as we realize how important your satisfaction is to your overall mental health and wellness.            

Am I eligible for a handicap placard?

You are eligible for a handicap placard if you have a lower extremity injury. Please discuss this with Jaime Dobson (Dr Crichlow’s PA). You may contact her by calling Dr. Crichlow’s PSCs at 317.917.4384. 

Download BMV application

When can I participate in sexual activity?

Often this question is difficult for patients to ask but vital to your personal health and wellness.  The answer depends mostly upon your weight bearing status and hip precautions (after acetabular repair or pelvis fixation).  If you can participate without putting pressure on your injured extremity or pelvis then it is safe.

Sexual Intercourse after total joint replacement

Surprising Benefit of Hip Replacement

When do I start Physical Therapy (PT) or Occupational Therapy (OT)?

Formal therapy usually starts once you are able to bear some weight on your injured extremity.  Most of these exercises can be performed at home on your own time and don’t require numerous prolonged out-patient visits. 

Upper extremity injuries, depending upon the injury, may start therapy after your first office visit (usually two weeks after injury). 

Will my hardware/ implants set off metal detectors?

A great deal of hardware needs to be removed.  All adolescents, under the age of 18, will need their hardware removed to prevent in-growth (grow bone right over the plate or nail) into the implant. Hardware around the ankle often causes discomfort later with shoe wear.  This can be discussed with your surgeon in office once your fracture heals.